Skip to main content

Full text of "A story about a real man"

See other formats

A STORY ABOUT A REAL MAN                                                   195
from heel to toe in taking a step, and from toe to heel in
taking the next one, and also, of placing his feet not
parallel to each other, but at an angle, toes outward,
which lent more stability to the body when walking.
A man learns all this in his infancy when he takes his
first awkward steps on his short, feeble legs under the
care of his mother. These habits are acquired for the rest
of one's life and become a natural impulse. When, howev-
er, a man is obliged to wear artificial limbs and the
natural harmony of his body is disturbed, this impulse
acquired in infancy, far from helping, impedes his move-
ments. In learning to acquire new habits, he is obliged
to combat the old impulse. Many people who have lost
their limbs, if they lack sufficient will-power, never
again learn the art of walking that we so easily learn in
Having set himself a goal, Meresyev was determined
to reach it. Realising the mistake he made in his first
attempt, he tried again. This time he turned the toe of
his artificial foot outward, rested on the heel and then
threw the weight of his body on the toe. The leather
creaked angrily. The moment the weight was transferred
to the toe, Alexei lifted the other foot from the floor
and threw it forward. The heel struck the floor. He now
stood away from the wall, balancing his body with his
outstretched arms, not daring to take the next step. And
there he stood, his body swaying, trying to keep his
balance and feeling a cold sweat breaking out on the
bridge of his nose.
It was in a moment like this that Vasily Vasilyevich
discovered him. He stood at the door watching, then
stepped towards him and, supporting him by the arm-
pits, exclaimed:
"Good going! Why are you alone, without a nurse or
an orderly? Proud, I suppose-----But never mind. As
in everything you do, the first step is the most important,
and you've got over the most difficult part."
Shortly before this Vasily Vasilyevich had been
appointed head of an extremely important medical
institution. It was a big job and took up an enormous
amount of time. He was obliged to drop his work at the
hospital, but the old veteran was still a consultant, and